[OPE-L:4351] Re: 'natural price'

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Sun Oct 29 2000 - 10:28:55 EST


1) Marx is saying in the footnote (just prior to chapter 6, Vol. 1) 
that over the 'long period of time' there is an 'average price' that is 
'ultimately' determined by value. He explicitly makes clear that 
value does not equal average price - he clearly has in mind prices 
of production. Moreover, he mentions Smith and Ricardo in just this 
context without any qualification regarding their centre of gravity 
concept. I'm not sure how much stronger textual evidence you can 

I am doubtful as to the validity of this 'empirical average' notion but I 
can't read the footnote any other way. I would be quite happy to 
drop any idea that this 'regulating price' exhibits stability over 
periods of months and years. I don't think we lose anything in 
dropping this view (the logic remains). It seems to be contingent on 
more concrete aspects whether or not such stability is displayed, 
and I don't have the knowledge of these more concrete aspects. 

Two relevant further points:

- The footnote is not intimately connected with the chapter (btw, 
my reading of this chapter does not see marx as making any 
dodgy assumptions re interest and merchant capital). This is why it 
is a footnote.

- One thing that maybe throwing our discussion is your, to my 
mind, strange notion that Walrasian equilibrium and Ricardian / 
Smithian 'natural prices' have a great deal in common. I'm no 
historian of economic thought but I would have thought the two are 
entirely distinct. I'm certain that modern day 'general equilibrium' 
prices are completely different to Smith and Ricardo's natural 
prices. Eg. there is absolutely nothing in standard general 
equilibrium analysis to tell us the relation of it's exchange ratios to 
reality. And the whole GE thing does seem irredeemably static.

On a different matter:

My interpretation of Ilyenkov is a minority one. But let me just say 
that my interpretation is at odds with your 'successive 
approximations' reading of 'Capital'. Ilyenkov sees Marx as 
'developing' the law of value. This is an immanent development not 
an ongoing setting and relaxing of arbitrary assumptions. I mention 
this because you often invoke Ilyenkov re the transformation 
problem (and don't get me wrong, I am delighted that you do, even 
if I don't agree with your interpretation).

Many thanks,


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